African hair braiding cornrow styles 2018

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For other uses, see and .

"Braided hair" redirects here. For other uses, see .

tribes woman from wearing braids An child with a "Lock of Youth" plait hairstyle

A braid (also referred to as a plait) is a complex structure or pattern formed by interlacing three or more strands of flexible material such as textile yarns, , or hair. Compared with the process of , which usually involves two separate, perpendicular groups of strands ( and ), a braid is usually long and narrow, with each component strand functionally equivalent in zigzagging forward through the overlapping mass of the others. The most simple and common hair braid is a flat, solid, three-stranded structure. More complex braids can be constructed from an arbitrary number of strands to create a wider range of structures. Some more complex braids are fishtail braid, five-stranded braid, rope braid, French braid and waterfall braid.

Braids have been made for thousands of years in many different cultures around the world, and for a variety of uses. Traditionally, the materials used in braids have depended on the indigenous plants and animals available in the local area.

When the arrived, mechanized braiding equipment was invented to increase production. The braiding technique was used to make with both natural and synthetic fibers, and for radios using . In more recent times it has been used to create a covering for fuel pipes in jet aircraft and ships, first using , then stainless steel and . Hoses for domestic plumbing are often covered with stainless steel braid.


Prehistory and history[]

The oldest known reproduction of hair braiding may go back about 30,000 years: the , now known in as the Woman of , is a female estimated to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 . It has been disputed whether or not she wears braided hair or some sort of a woven basket on her head. The is estimated to be about 25,000 years old and shows, ostensibly, a braided hairstyle.

Another sample of a different origin was traced back to a burial site called located on the , during the first dynasty of .

During the and many peoples in the , , , and such as the , , , , Akkadians, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and // are depicted in art with braided or platted hair and beards.

In some regions, a braid was a means of communication. At a glance, one individual could distinguish a wealth of information about another, whether they were married, mourning, or of age for courtship, simply by observing their hairstyle. Braids were a means of . Certain hairstyles were distinctive to particular tribes or nations. Other styles informed others of an individual’s status in society.

such as the of have been braiding their hair for centuries. In many African tribes hairstyles are unique and used to identify each tribe. Braid patterns or hairstyles can be an indication of a person’s community, age, marital status, wealth, power, social position, and religion.

Braiding is traditionally a social art. Because of the time it takes to braid hair, people have often taken time to socialize while braiding and having their hair braided. It begins with the elders making simple knots and braids for younger children. Older children watch and learn from them, start practicing on younger children, and eventually learn the traditional designs. This carries on a tradition of bonding between elders and the new generation.

Early braids had many uses, such as costume decoration, animal (like camel girths), decoration, bowls and hats (from ), (such as those made in Japan to secure precious tea supplies through the use of elaborate knots), and weapons (slings, for example).

Materials that are used in braids can vary depending on local materials. For instance, South Americans used the very fine fibers from the wool of and , while North American people made use of fibers. Throughout the world, vegetable fibers such as , , and have been used to create braids. In China, Korea, and Japan still remains the main material used. In the Americas, the braiding of is also common.

For the peoples of , , and , and the , braiding was a practical means of producing useful and decorative textiles. In other areas, such as the (where leaves and grasses are braided), and for many hill tribes, braids are made using minimal equipment. It was only when braiding became a popular occupation in the home or school, as it is in and , and when the came about, that specific tools were developed to increase production and make it easier to produce more complicated patterns of braids.

Braids are also very good for making , decorative objects, and hairstyles (also see , ). Complex braids have been used to create hanging fibre artworks. Braiding is also used to prepare horses' manes and tails for such as in and .

Ropes and cables[]

A step by step creation of a basic braid using three strings

Braiding creates a composite that is thicker and stronger than the non-interlaced strands of . Braided ropes are preferred by , , and in because they do not twist under load, as does an ordinary twisted-strand rope. These ropes consist of one or more tubular braided jackets surrounding either several small twisted fibre cords, or a single untwisted yarn of straight fibres, and are known as .

In electrical and electronic cables, braid is a tubular sheath made of braided strands of metal placed around a central cable for shielding against . The braid is grounded while the central conductor(s) carries the signal. The braid may be used in addition to a foil jacket to increase shielding and durability.

Another use is for which uses braids of thin insulated wires to carry high frequency signals with much lower losses from or to minimise in transformers.

Flat braids made of many copper wires can also be used for flexible electrical connections between large components. The numerous smaller wires comprising the braid are much more resistant to breaking under repeated motion and vibration than is a cable of larger wires. A common example of this may be found connecting a 's negative terminal to the metal .

Similar braiding is used on pressurized , such as in and systems in . Braiding is also used for fibres for composite reinforcements.

A property of the basic braid is that removing one strand unlinks the other two, as they are not twisted around each other. Mathematically, a braid with that property is called a .

Australian plaiting[]

Plaiting (or braiding) with leather has been a widely practiced tradition in rural since times. It is used in the production of fine leather belts, , bridles, dog leads, bullwhips, , etc. Other leathers are used for the plaiting of heavier products suitable for everyday use.

Other braids[]

Gold braids and silver braids are components or trims of many kinds of , including (in , , on headgear).


Braids are often used figuratively to represent interweaving or combination, such as in, "He braided many different ideas into a new whole."

In some river and stream systems, small streams join together and redivide in many places. Such stream systems are said to be . These are often found in at the outlet of . This is a result of heavy deposition at high flows followed by re-erosion at low flows. See also .


  • A braid

  • A gold braid on a police uniform

  • A close up of a red braided USB cable.

See also[]


  1. Kyosev, Yordan (2014). Braiding technology for textiles. Woodhead Publishing.  . 
  2. . Archived from on 9 October 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018
  3. Michael, M.; Kern, C.; Heinze, T. . pp. 225–243. :. 
  4. Kyosev, Y.; Müller, B. . pp. 209–222. :. 
  5. . from the original on 13 November 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2018
  6. . from the original on 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  7. . from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018
  8. . Bright Hub Education. from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018
  9. 2010-02-01 at the . Retrieved 2010-2-20
  10. Grant, Bruce, Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding, Cornell Maritime Press, Cambridge, Maryland, 1972.  
  11. Collier, Ann. . Google Books / Jessica Kingsley Publishers. from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 

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